The REAL Reason

I was explaining the post-hoc fallacy to my students last week. It’s a logical fallacy that occurs when you assume that because X happened before Y, X necessarily caused Y. I asked my students to think of an example of this faulty form of reasoning. One of my very bright students, after thinking long and hard, slowly and very earnestly answered thus:

“For example, if a person catches a cold after going swimming, they might think that they caught a cold because they went swimming before they caught a cold. But they would be wrong.” (long dramatic pause here) “They really caught a cold because… they weren’t wearing enough clothes. ”

If you’ve read our blog, wearing enough clothes (the definition of enough clothes is however many layers you can stuff on your body and still walk around) is a very big deal here. All colds are caused by not wearing enough clothes. My son has a little cold right now, and our ayi secretly asked my husband if I put enough layers on him the day before he caught a cold. (She’s smart enough not to ask me that question directly!)

Well, I did what any teacher would do, and praised my student’s wonderful example while smiling inside. I decided to save the lecture on germs causing colds. She was very proud of herself, as was I!

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2 Responses to “The REAL Reason”


  1. 1 Chris Burgwald February 23, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Is this clothes thing part of the entire Chinese culture or is it a regional thing?

  2. 2 Becca Lloyd February 23, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    That is funny! I remember Lindsay S. telling me the same thing with her baby–she could never be dressed warmly enough! And yet, the Chinese grandparents around here seem to take the babies out on walks on even very cold days. I’m sure the babies are thoroughly bundled up, but do they also have priorities about getting fresh air?


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